McCarthy finally wins Senate confirmation as EPA chief

After being sidetracked by GOP concern over both planned carbon dioxide rules for power plants and ‘transparency’ at the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy has been confirmed by the Senate as EPA administrator.

McCarthy, from Massachusetts, won confirmation in a 59-40 vote on July 18. That’s just days after various Senate developments paved the way for the vote to go ahead without a 60-vote super-majority.

McCarthy headed EPA’s air and radiation office during President Obama’s first term. McCarthy will succeed Lisa Jackson as administrator.

In addition to most Republicans, McCarthy’s nomination was opposed by certain coal or heavy fossil fuel production areas.

“I voted against Gina McCarthy to be the next Administrator of the EPA, but my fight is not with her,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. “My fight is with President Obama and the EPA, the regulatory agency that has consistently placed unreasonable regulations and unobtainable standards on energy production, rather than focus on efforts to develop a domestic all-of-the-above energy strategy for the future,” Manchin said.

While Manchin finds McCarthy “earnest, friendly, pragmatic and incredibly intelligent … [she] has been responsible for overseeing some of EPA’s most unreasonable and restrictive proposals.”

 The confirmaiton was praised by a major Senate backer.

“I am so pleased that the full Senate has confirmed Gina McCarthy to be EPA Administrator, because she is the right person for the job,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a July 18 statement. Boxer chairs the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, which passed McCarthy, along party lines May 16.

“With more than three decades of public service experience, Gina has a deep understanding that public health and a growing economy depend on clean air and clean water. Gina McCarthy has worked for five Republican Governors and a Democratic President, and she will lead EPA in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people,” Boxer said.

Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn said he was pleased to see that EPA now has a permanent administrator in place.

“A number of significant electric power industry issues are on EPA’s regulatory agenda right now, including the pending Section 316(b) rule for cooling water intake structures, coal ash regulations, and new source performance standards for new and existing power plants,” Kuhn said.

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Executive Director Charles Gray said McCarthy has fostered an “open and inclusive dialogue” during her time at EPA. We look forward to working with her in her new capacity,” Gray said.

“The National Mining Association stands ready to work with Gina McCarthy, the newly-confirmed EPA administrator, and her staff toward thoughtful, constructive policies that assure America’s mining industry continues to provide the energy, metals and minerals all Americans depend on for economic security and quality of life,” said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn.

“We look forward to working with her to continue the EPA’s vital work of protecting American families and holding polluters accountable,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “And while we are pleased that McCarthy has finally been confirmed, there is simply no good reason that it should take 137 days for a qualified, experienced, bi-partisan nominee like her to be confirmed,” Brune added.



About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at